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News » Top seeds have advantage

Top seeds have advantage

Top seeds have advantage
The chase for home-court advantage could come down to the final day of the season.

How important is home-court advantage?

Extremely important.

If you're not seeded No. 1 or No. 2, history suggests you won't reach the NBA Finals, much less win the title.

Of the past 20 champions, 18 have been seeded No. 1 or No. 2 in their respective conferences.

The two exceptions were the 2007 Spurs and 1995 Rockets, veteran teams that had won before. Every other champion since the 1988-89 season was seeded No. 1 or No. 2 (see chart).

San Antonio was assisted by No. 8 seed Golden State's upset of Dallas two years ago. The Spurs regained home-court advantage in the Western Conference finals after eliminating Phoenix in the semifinals.

Being the No. 1 or No. 2 seed also is critical just to reach the Finals. The past two decades, 90 percent of the teams in the Finals (36 of 40) were seeded No. 1 or No. 2.

The Knicks, a No. 8 seed in 1999, were an aberration because of the lockout year. The other exception was the 1990-91 Lakers, a No. 3 seed that benefited from No. 2 seed San Antonio losing in the first round.

Which brings us to the current season.

Races for the No. 1 seeds essentially are over. The Lakers (West) and Cavaliers (East) are locks to nail down the top spots.

But as history shows, the race for the No. 2 seed could be significant.

Orlando's win over Boston last week was huge. The Celtics and Magic split their regular-season series. It could boil down to the tiebreaker - best conference record. Boston currently owns a slight edge.

The West has six contenders for the No. 2 seed.

San Antonio, shooting for its fourth title in seven years, has the inside track but plays six of its last 10 games on the road, although New Orleans (today) and Cleveland are the only two road games against playoff teams.

Houston has made a strong run without Tracy McGrady, but the Rockets face a challenging final eight games.

Denver has the easiest schedule in the West, but the Nuggets have been a .500 team in March.

New Orleans has been hot and cold and plays a brutal schedule down the stretch.

Utah might be the team best equipped to push the Lakers. But six tough road games could prevent the Jazz from moving into one of the top four slots.

A young Portland squad could use home-court advantage, but it's doubtful the Trail Blazers can climb higher than fifth.

Dallas is trying to assure it gets in by holding off Phoenix.

The playoffs don't start until mid-April. But if history holds true, the first two weeks in April could be important to which two teams are still playing in June.


Listed below are results of the NBA Finals and where each team was seeded in its conference the past 20 years.

2008: No. 1 Boston def. No. 1 LA Lakers

2007: No. 3 San Antonio def. No. 2 Cleveland

2006: No. 2 Miami def. No. 2 Dallas

2005: No. 2 San Antonio def. No. 2 Detroit

2004: No. 2 Detroit def. No. 2 LA Lakers

2003: No. 1 San Antonio def. No. 2 New Jersey

2002: No. 2 LA Lakers def. No. 1 New Jersey

2001: No. 2 LA Lakers def. No. 1 Philadelphia

2000: No. 1 LA Lakers def. No. 1 Indiana

1999: No. 1 San Antonio def. No. 8 New York

1998: No. 1 Chicago def. No. 1 Utah

1997: No. 1 Chicago def. No. 1 Utah

1996: No. 1 Chicago def. No. 1 Seattle

1995: No. 6 Houston def. No. 1 Orlando

1994: No. 2 Houston def. No. 2 New York

1993: No. 2 Chicago def. No. 1 Phoenix

1992: No. 1 Chicago def. No. 1 Portland

1991: No. 1 Chicago def. No. 3 LA Lakers

1990: No. 1 Detroit def. No. 2 Portland

1989: No. 1 Detroit def. No. 1 LA Lakers


Remaining schedules

Western Conference

San Antonio (10): Mar. 29-at New Orleans; Mar. 31-Okla. City; Apr. 3-at Indiana; Apr. 5-at Cleveland; Apr. 7-at Okla. City; Apr. 8-Portland; Apr. 10-Utah; Apr. 12-at Sacramento; Apr. 13-at Golden State; Apr. 15-New Orleans.

Houston (8): Apr. 1-at Phoenix; Apr. 3-at LA Lakers; Apr. 5-Portland; Apr. 7-Orlando; Apr. 9-at Sacramento; Apr. 10-at Golden State; Apr. 13-New Orleans; Apr. 15-at Dallas.

Denver (8): Mar. 31-New York; Apr. 2-Utah; Apr. 4-LA Clippers; Apr. 5-at Minnesota; Apr. 8-Okla. City; Apr. 9-at LA Lakers; Apr. 13-Sacramento; Apr. 15-at Portland.

New Orleans (11): Mar. 29-San Antonio; Mar. 31-at Sacramento; Apr. 1-at LA Clippers; Apr. 3-at Golden State; Apr. 5-Utah; Apr. 7-at Miami; Apr. 8-Phoenix; Apr. 10-at Dallas; Apr. 12-Dallas; Apr. 13-at Houston; Apr. 15-at San Antonio.

Portland (9): Mar. 31-Utah; Apr. 3-at Okla. City; Apr. 5-at Houston; Apr. 7-at Memphis; Apr. 8-at San Antonio; Apr. 10-LA Lakers; Apr. 11-at LA Clippers; Apr. 13-Okla. City; Apr. 15-Denver.

Utah (10): Mar. 30-New York; Mar. 31-at Portland; Apr. 2-at Denver; Apr. 3-Minnesota; Apr. 5-at New Orleans; Apr. 8-at Dallas; Apr. 10-at San Antonio; Apr. 11-Golden State; Apr. 13-LA Clippers; Apr. 14-at LA Lakers.

Dallas (10): Mar. 29-at Cleveland; Mar. 31-at Minnesota; Apr. 1-Miami; Apr. 3-at Memphis; Apr. 5-Phoenix; Apr. 8-Utah; Apr. 10-New Orleans; Apr. 12-at New Orleans; Apr. 13-Minnesota; Apr. 15-Houston.

Phoenix (9): Mar. 29-at Sacramento; Apr. 1-Houston; Apr. 3-Sacramento; Apr. 5-at Dallas; Apr. 8-at New Orleans; Apr. 10-at Memphis; Apr. 11-at Minnesota; Apr. 13-Memphis; Apr. 15-Golden State.

Eastern Conference

Orlando (10): Mar. 30-at Miami; Apr. 1-Toronto; Apr. 3-Cleveland; Apr. 4-at Atlanta; Apr. 5-at Houston; Apr. 8-Memphis; Apr. 10-New York; Apr. 11-at New Jersey; Apr. 13-at Milwaukee; Apr. 15-Charlotte.

Boston (8): Mar. 29-Okla. City; Apr. 1-Charlotte; Apr. 3-Atlanta; Apr. 8-New Jersey; Apr. 10-Miami; Apr. 12-at Cleveland; Apr. 14-at Philadelphia; Apr. 15-Washington.



Percent chance the Thunder will land the No. 1 overall pick in the June 25 Draft, presumably for Blake Griffin.

Oklahoma City has passed Minnesota and owns the league's sixth worst record. Based on current standings, the Thunder would receive 63 of the 1,000 ping pong balls in the May 19 Draft Lottery.


Rough road

The Thunder faces one of its toughest weeks of the season. Oklahoma City plays two teams that have accounted for four of the last five NBA titles and a young playoff contender desperate for a win to improve its playoff positioning.

→Today: at Boston. The Celtics were a .500 team without Kevin Garnett, but KG is back.

→Tuesday: at San Antonio. The Spurs will seek revenge for a recent loss in the Ford Center.

→Friday: Portland. The Thunder spanked the Trail Blazers two months ago at home.


Howard in select company

Dwight Howard is in position to become only the fifth player in NBA history to lead the league in rebounds and blocks, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, Hakeem Olajuwon and Ben Wallace.

→Amare Stoudemire (eye surgery) plans to wear goggles next season. Wearing sunglasses shades his healing eye from light, Stoudemire made his first appearance at a Suns game last week.

LeBron James became the first player in NBA history to be named Eastern Conference Player of the Week seven times in one season.

→Chris "Birdman" Andersen is second in the league in blocks but is playing for the minimum in Denver ($998,398). Andersen is expected to receive a raise this summer as a free agent.

→Mario Chalmers, selected in the second round, No. 34 overall, is one of only two rookies to start every game, the other being Memphis' O.J. Mayo.

→Greg Oden has returned after missing 13 games with a chip fracture in his left knee but won't immediately return to the starting lineup.

→Countering James' pregame ritual of pretending to take a photo of teammates, Shaquille O'Neal pretended to bowl and had Suns players fall down like pins, with Alando Tucker wobbling before he fell.



Blocked shots by Miami guard Dwyane Wade, who became the first player in NBA history officially listed at 6-foot-4 or shorter to block 100 shots in a season. David Thompson, who had 99 blocked shots, owned the record. Thompson had 102 blocks with Denver in 1975-76 in the ABA. Wade also became the first player in NBA history to record 100 blocks and 100 steals in a season.


"Crab dribble"

Thunder players and other NBA coaches and players each week address an NBA topic. This week's subject is the "crab dribble," the move LeBron James claims he used, claiming shouldn't call traveling

Carlos Boozer: he uses it a lot

Mark Cuban: stuff on your chin

David West: legit play

Kobe Bryant: LeBron's power move

Nick Collison: understand it differently

Kevin Love: confused by it

Byron Scott: stupid

Kevin Durant: I use it, too

Jason Kidd: pretty impressive

Scott Brooks: not interested

Desmond Mason: traveling

Kirk Hinrich: not a legit move

Chucky Atkins: have never done it

Jeff Green: LeBron's move

Grant Hill: walking

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: April 1, 2009


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